The Regional Development Corp., an affiliate of the Erie County Industrial Development Agency, on Wednesday approved a $250,000 loan to Niagara Lubricant Co. to expand its operation and replace equipment that was destroyed in a fire in 2011.
The 10-year loan, at 4 percent, will enable the 92-year-old Buffalo manufacturer of lubricating oils, industrial oils and tire care products to re-enter the lubricants market, after being absent for several years since its factory at 164 Chandler St. was destroyed in the fire. The company, owned by Leon Smith III, salvaged whatever equipment it could, bought new inventory and continued operating in a leased production facility so it could keep employees working, retail clients and eventually re-establish its business. But sales fell 17 percent in 2011 and 4 percent in 2012.
RDC partnered with the Grow America Fund in June 2014 to help provide $2.3 million in total financing to Niagara Lubricants to equip a newly acquired 65,000-square-foot facility at 1057 E. Delavan St. The company, which has been operating in the new location for eight months, has now increased sales 29 percent from 2011 levels. But after First Niagara Bank declined a loan request for more equipment, the company turned to RDC, which again teamed with Grow America for a total of $820,000 in loans.
According to RDC documents, the company will create five new jobs over the next two years as a result of the expansion, while retaining 31 existing full-time positions.